Monday, June 25, 2012

Europe May be More Affordable than Ever for the American Traveler

Americans may have felt let down by their dollar's spending power in Europe over the past few years, but the dollar is finally bouncing back a little at a time and putting a European Vacation back in your budget for this summer.  The dollar's value compared to the euro increased 9 percent between January 2010 and January 2012.

Add the dollar's increase in value over the euro with the unsteady European economies, as well as growing tourist markets and emerging destinations, and you have the conclusion that Europe travel can be affordable again.

An example is Berlin, where there are a lot of new hotels.  There is currently 30,000 more hotel beds in Berlin then in New York City.  This is creating heated competition and driving down the prices, the average price for a room is $111 a night.  Another great money saver if you are planning to visit Berlin, is their new Berlin Welcome Card, which covers two days of public transportation and admission to more than 160 urban attractions for $22.75.

The Berlin Brandenburg International Airport (BER) opens in June and will have new routes to new Eastern European destinations.  Cities such as Bucharest, Romania, and Zagreb, Croatia, are great values where hotel rates in both cities decreased 20 percent in 2011.  Americans will also be happy with the cost of visiting Hungary where the dollar is up 25 percent against the Hungarian forint since July 2011.

Americans were the second biggest growth market to Portugal in 2011 after Brazil, where eating out in Lisbon, for instance, costs a fraction of what it does in other European capitals.

Anyone wanting to visit Italy can take comfort in knowing that a stronger dollar will help in Florence and Venice.  But to really stretch your travel budget in Italy, go to some out of the way places for a change like Puglia, where you'll be rewarded with more than freshly made pasta and century old olive groves.

As with all things in life, timing is everything.  People are under the impression that summer is the best time to visit Europe, according to the Department of Commerce's Office of Travel & Tourism Industries, June and July are the peak months for U.S. Travel there.  Though those few extra rays are nice, the best values fall outside these heavily trafficked months.  Airfares to Europe start to fall for departures in mid to late August, just before the school year starts, and they stay low through the end of March (except during the winter holidays and around spring break in the U.S.

Hotel room prices at big city hotels tend to stay steady all year, European resorts also have dramatic seasonal rate shifts.  Spring means more showers, but the flowers are in bloom in the English countryside.  In August, temperatures in Paris soar to uncomfortable highs as residents leave the big city.  If you arrive in mild and sunny May, you'll have a greater chance of meeting the locals.

With these helpful tips and a little bit of homework along with staying off the beaten path a little you will find that you too can visit Europe and soak in all of its beauty and splendor.

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